Dustin Diamond Dies: Saved By the Bell Co-Star Mario Lopez Pays Tribute

Mario Lopez pays tribute to his Saved by the Bell co-star Dustin Diamond, who died on Monday aged 44. Diamond, who played Samuel "Screech" Powers on the NBC sitcom that spawned a franchise, was hospitalized with cancer concerns weeks ago in January. Days later, the actor's representative confirmed with TMZ Diamond was undergoing his first round of chemotherapy while battling "cancer throughout his body." The actor's manager, Roger Paul, confirmed on Monday Diamond died due to stage 4 small cell carcinoma. Lopez, who played A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell, is the first of Diamond's co-stars to react to the actor's death:

"Dustin, you will be missed my man. The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted," Lopez wrote on Instagram alongside a gallery of photos with Diamond. "Prayers for your family will continue on..."

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Since his hospitalization three weeks ago, Diamond's cancer "managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution," Paul said in a statement. "Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful."

"We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most. He's had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events. We want the public to understand that he was not intentionally malevolent," Paul's statement adds. "He — much like the rest of those who act out and behave poorly — had undergone a great deal of turmoil and heartache. His actions, though rebukeable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly. In actuality, Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other peoples' emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too—a strength and a flaw, all in one."

Diamond did not join his original Saved by the Bell co-stars — Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, and Lark Voorhies — in the 2020 revival streaming on Peacock. November's Episode 8, "The Todd Capsule," revealed Screech was now living aboard the International Space Station.

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In February 2020, Diamond told TMZ he hoped to reprise his role in the reboot focused on a younger cast.

"I think that right now Screech would be dealing with parenthood and dealing with his kids, and finding out he's got a little Screech of his own now," Diamond said. "And that maybe he wasn't a barrel full of roses to deal with growing up, and realizing 'Was I ever this difficult?'"